Sunday26 April 2015

Ralph Kent

Ralph Kent

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Comments (316)

  • Comment on: Architects braced for major cuts

    Ralph Kent's comment | 13 May 2010 11:48 am

    Unfortunately the money tree has run out of fruit. In my experience, architects don't always have the best grasp of numbers. Its easy to keep spending money using tools like PFI, PPP, borrowing during boom years, but there comes a time when it all has to be paid back. Hopefully the axing of absurd programmes like Heathrow runway 3 and the ID card scheme, plus the elimination of massive replication of task within local government (anyone been to Cardiff recently - WAG, County Hall, City Hall, C2C all employing thousands within five minutes bike ride of each other). In that way, front line services like schools and hospitals can be ringfenced. Remember one of Clegg's pledges was reduced class sizes, so the little ones have got to learn somewhere with more rooms.

    All I'm saying is that basing your views on the future against the last decade fuelled by accounting wheezes and phoney money is probably not the best base case.

  • Comment on: RIBA boss tells graduates to stop moaning and get creative

    Ralph Kent's comment | 29 June 2010 11:08 am

    I think this just shows a big detachment from the economic reality and does not cast Mr. Rich in a particularly favourable light.

    A lot of architecture graduates unable to find work would love to 'get creative' and go it alone and start their own businesses. What Mr. Rich seems to have failed to pick up on is that, despite the recession / depression and the almost absence of opportunities within existing practices for recent architecture graduates, we are living in perverse times whereby phoney economics and measures like QE have kept asset prices and rents artificially high, significantly reducing the scope for any
    'creative rebirth'.

    Combine that with the difficulties in obtaining a loan as a new business and this almost precludes entirely the possibility of anyone (other than trustafarians) being able to afford the money to lease premises, or to get together with friends and buy something up cheaply and use their training to develop it for a profit.

    Sure, nothing's impossible, but the combination of crazy asset prices, high leases, absence of financing for start-ups, absence of real-world building experience through work in established firms and being frequently saddled with £20K of student debts and ongoing living costs do mean that the cards are somewhat heavily stacked against all but the very wealthy. We can play around at the margins, doing competitions and hoping, but ultimately living expenses still need to be met.

    We all appreciate that no one owes us a living and these are the times we live in - the US post-war model is to work longer and harder for a lower quality of living. Thus the younger you are, the more shafted you are, by definition. This is not up for debate.

    The trouble is with the old guard like Mr. Rich is that they automatically transfer their experiences to everyone else's, and assume every recession is like the last one. I think there's a good chance that this recession / depression will be materially different to any for about 80-odd years.

    And as other commentators have kindly pointed out, it would be beneficial if someone who is commenting on the moanings of architecture graduates had actually experienced the process themselves before chiming in.

  • Comment on: O’Donnell & Tuomey’s historical inspiration

    Ralph Kent's comment | 18 June 2010 11:06 am

    In fairness to both Samuel and Simon I think the BBC reporting convention on Derry / Londonderry is to use both equally during any story they report.

  • Comment on: Anger as Foster keeps title despite quitting Lords

    Ralph Kent's comment | 10 July 2010 11:28 pm

    Its interesting how, the richer you get, the greater the desire to call Switzerland 'home', isn't it?

  • Comment on: Foster quits House of Lords to avoid paying full British taxes

    Ralph Kent's comment | 7 July 2010 11:27 am


    I think his tax status could be argued to be everyone's business, as, up until the deadline for resignation today, he was a member of the House of Lords. I also think that people are perhaps a little disappointed by what they might perceive as duplicity by Norman Foster - inasmuch as he benefited from a significant number of UK publicly financed projects, but has chosen, for the sake of £3-4m tax liability (with taper relief given how long he's hand his firm) to be tax-efficient and go to live in Switzerland. Claims from his quarter that 'its always somewhere I wanted to live' as an explanation don't really help his defence.

    I think a lot of people perhaps just expect architects to have more of a social conscience? That's probably naive thinking, but I guess that's why people get a bee in their bonnet about this tax-dodge.

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